Shopping for a Home

In the same way the Internet roiled the travel industry, it's eyeing real estate as the next big sector for radical transformation.

A new study by Borrell Associates finds that the real estate sector clocked in at $11 billion in ad spending last year - despite growing less than 4 percent over the past four years. Home sales have risen 41 percent in the past year. What's a realtor to do?

Go online, young man. Borrell Associates predicts real estate advertising online, now at $2 billion, will speed past $3 billion by 2010, ahead of newspapers. There's ample room for growth: A whopping 61 percent of real estate agents don't advertise on the Internet, and 87 percent aren't buying keywords on Google or Yahoo.

There are other reasons for the pending change. Homes sales are contracting, and houses are staying on the market longer, intensifying the need to advertise. Agents are cutting back on higher-priced media, such as newspapers, and opting for the Internet, which is both more affordable and easier to measure.

So forget the old standbys of the yard sign and the classifieds. Within four years, newspaper spending on real estate ads will shrink by 50 percent - another victim of the Web's success.

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